AMENDMENT

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AMENDMENT, in law; the correction of any error committed in a process. An error in judgment cannot be amended, but an error after judgment may be. A writ of error must be brought by the party aggrieved by an error in judgment. Any error after judgment, in plea or otherwise, may always be amended, by leave of the court.Amendment, in parliament or congress, denotes an alteration made in the original draught of a bill, whilst it is passing through the houses. Amendments may be made so as totally to alter the nature of the proposition; and it is a way of getting rid of a proposition, by making it bear a sense different from what was intended by the movers, so that they vote against it themselves. A member who has spoken to the main question may speak again to the AMENDMENT. (See, for this and other points respecting amendments, both in England and the U. States, Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice, sect. 35.) The French Charte Constitutionette says, article 46,"Aucun ctmendement ne pent etre fait a une loi sHl n'a ete propose ou consenti par le roi, et sHl n'a ete renvoyS et discute dans les bureaux." AMERICA. Eastward of Asia, westward of Europe and Africa, between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, lies the continent of America. It extends from lat. 56° S. to an unknown northern latitude, and consists of two great divisions, North and South America (q. v.), which are connected by the isthmus of Darien or Panama. The whole continent is upwards of 9,000 miles in length, and from 1,500 to 1,800 in average breadth. The number of square miles which it contains is stated differently by different authorities. Templemann gives 14,323,000; Balbi, 14,622,000; Graberg, 15,737,000; Hassel, 17,303,000. Between the two great divisions lie the West India islands (q. v.), extending from the gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea into the Atlantic.North America includes Greenland, belonging to Denmark; British America, which comprises New Britain, Upper Canada, Lower Canada, JNew Brunswick and JNova Scotia; the Russian possessions in the northwest; the United States; Mexico,, and Guatimala. The principal ranges of mountains are, the Alleghany mountains, the Rocky mountains, and the Cordilleras of Mexico. Some of the largest rivers are, the St. Lawrence, Mississippi, Missouri, Rio del Norte, Colorado, Arkansas, Red river and Ohio. North America contains the largest freshwater lakes on the globe; some of the most extensive are, lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, Ontario, Winnipeg, Slave lake, Athapescow, Champlain and Nicaragua. The principal bays and gulfs are, Baffin's bay, Hudson's bay, James's ba}^, the gulf of St. Lawrence, Delaware bay, Chesapeake bay, the gulfs of Mexico and California, and the bays of Honduras and Campeachy. The most important islands are, Newfoundland, Cape Breton, St. John's, Rhode Island, Long Island and the Bermudas on the eastern coast; queen Charlotte's islands, Quadra and Vancouver's island, king George Ill's island, and the Fox islands on the western coast. South America comprises Colombia, Guiana, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Chili, Buenos Ayres, or the United Provinces of La Plata, and Patagonia. The principal range of mountains is the Andes. The largest rivers are, the Amazon, La Plata, Orinoco, Parana, Paraguay, Madeira, Tocantins, St. Francisco and Magdalena. There are few large lakes; some of the most considerable are, Maracaybo and Titicaca. The principal islands are, the Falkland islands, Terra del Fuego, Chiloe, Juan Fernandez and the Gallapagos.The coast of A. was explored to 72° N. lat. by Hearne, in 1770; to 69° N. by Mackenzie, in 1789; to 78° N., along the shore of Baffin's bay, by captain Ross, in 1818; but its northern boundary is lost in the arctic circle. Near the southern extremity of America, in the latitude of 54°, lie the straits named, from the first circumnavigator of the world, Magellan (q. v.), and beyond, the southern promontory of the Terra del Fuego, cape Horn.The contment of A. has been examined byEuropeans principally on the seaboard. Expeditions, however, have been made through its interior, in several directions: e. g. through North America, by captains Lewis and Clarke, in 1804; major Pike, in 1805; through Brazil, by Langsdorf. Grant, Mawe, Koste, Eschwege, the prince of Neuwied, Spix, Martius and others, especially by Alex, von Humboldt(q. v.)Tor the history of its aboriginal population, and its condition oefore the arrival of the Europeans, only a small portion of the existing materials have, as yet, been collected. Traditions, monuments and other circumstances seem to indicate a double emigration from the East,one across the Aleutian islands, another farther south, over the tract which occupied the present place of the Atlantic ocean, if such a tract ever existed, as many writers have imagined. Or are the earliest inhabitants of America, the Toltecas, in Mexico, descended from that branch of the Huns, who migrated to the northeast A. D. 100, and the nations of South America from a tribe of the Mexicans, driven southward by the plague, about the year 1050 ? More light, we hope, will be shed on this subject, especially on what respects North America, by the American antiquarian societies. From the first volume of the transactions of the one established at Worcester, in Massachusetts, it may be seen that those antiquities which pertain, in reality, to the North American Indians, consist, for the most part, of rude hatchets and knives of stone, of mortars for bruising maize, of arrowheads, and similar articles. A second class consists of articles which the natives received from the earliest settlers. They are frequently found in the graves of the Indians. There is a third and more interesting class, derived from the nation that built the forts or tumuli (graves, walls, artificial eminences, hearths, &c.) in North America. To judge from these works, this nation must have been far more civilized, and much better acquainted with the useful arts, than the present Indians. From the lofty trees with which they are overgrown, it is concluded that a long period must have elapsedperhaps 1000 yearssince the desertion of these fabrics, and the extinction of the people by whom they were constructed. They are found in the vicinity of each other, spread over the great plains, from the southern shore of lake Erie to the gulf of Mexico, generally in the neighborhood of the great rivers. Their structure is regular, and they have been supposed to warrant the opinion of the existence, in ancient times, of great cities along the Mississippi. The mummies, as they are called, or dried bodies, enveloped with coarse cloth, and found in some of the saltpetre caves of Kentucky, are worthy of attention. As we proceed farther south, these works increase in number and magnitude. Their traces may be followed, through the provinces of Texas and New Mexico, into South America.Although the accounts of the earliest generations of this quarter of the world are scanty and obscure, its later history is rich in occurrences. The Icelanders made a voyage, in 982, to Winland (the name given to the tract extending from Greenland to Labrador); and the Venetians gave some information respecting the West India islands (in maps of 1424); but America still remained a sealed book for Europe till the period of its discovery by Columbus (q. v.), in 1492. Besides several voyages which he made subsequently to this continent, it was visited by Amerigo Vespucci (from whom it takes its name), in 1499; by Sebastian Cabot, in 1497; by Cabral, m 1500 and by Balbao, in 1507. Shortly after followed the expeditions of Cortez, Fizar ro, &c. It is probable that the new vorld has not been inhabited more than 12 centuries. This circumstance, together with the oppression which the aborigines have suffered since the settlement of the whites in their country, will account for the smallness of their number.Equally obscure with the origin of the Americans are their various ramifications. Their different languages, stated by Franc. Lopez at 1500, have been resolved, by Alex, von Humboldt, into 2 original tongues, the Toltecan and the Apalachian. (See Indians.)Nature has cast the surface of the new world in larger forms, and endowed it with fresher vitality, at least in the warmer regions, than she has bestowed on the soil of the old world. A. has every variety of climate; but the climate generally differs from that of the eastern hemisphere, by a greater predominance of cold. It is calculated that the heat is at least 10 degrees less, than in the same parallels in the eastern continent. A. abounds in almost all the varieties of the animal, vegetable and mineral productions. It contains a great variety of wild animals; and, since its discovery, the various domestic animals of Europe have been introduced, and are now found in great abundance. In comparing animals of the same species, in the two continents, it has been found, in a majority of instances, where a difference in size has been ascertained, that the American animal is larger than that of the eastern continent. The birds are exceedingly numerous, and are said to be more beautiful in their plumage than those of Asia and Africa, but in their notes less melodious. The condor, which frequents the Andes of South America, holds, on account of its size, strength and rapacity, the preeminence over all the feathered creation. Reptiles are numerous, and many of them venomous. Insects abound, and, in many parts, are very offensive. The American waters are remarkable for the variety and abundance of their fish. A. produces every kind of grain, fruit, pulse, herbs, plants and flowers native to Europe, besides a great variety of others, as cacao, cinnamon, pepper, sarsaparilla, vanilla, scarlet dye, a great variety of balsams, mahogany, logwood, Brazilwood, sassafras, aloes, barks, gums, resins and medicinal herbs. This continent, particularly South America and Mexico, abounds in gold and silver. Since the discovery of the American mines, such ample supplies of these precious metals have been carried to Europe, that their value has become much diminished. A. also produces an abundance of copper, quicksilver, iron, antimony, sulphur, nitre, lead, loadstone, and marbles of every sort. It has various kinds of precious stones, as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, amethysts, alabaster, &c. The inhabitants may be div* led into 3 classes,Whites, Negroes and Indians. The whites are descendants of Europeans, who have migrated to A. since its discovery. The Negroes are mostly held in slavery, and are descendants of Africans, forced from their native country. The Indians are the aborigines, and generally savages. They are of copper complexion, fierce aspect, tall, straight, athletic, and capable of enduring great fatigue. They are hospitable and generous, faithful in their friendships, but implacable in their resentments. Their common occupations are hunting, fishing and war. At the time of the discovery of America, the natives, in some parts, particularly Mexico and Peru, were considerably advanced in civilization. For the most part, they continue a distinct people, and retain their savage customs; but, in some instances, they have mingled with the white population. The Indians still occupy the greater part of America. In North America, they possess almost all the country, except the southern and eastern parts; that is, the northern part of Spanish America, most of the territory of the U. States which lies west of the Mississippi, and nearly all the vast regions which lie north of the U. States' territory, and west of the St. Lawrence. Iri South America, they possess Patagonia, and most of the interior of the continent.The whites, who are descended from Spanish, Portuguese, British, French, Dutch, Danish, German and Russian colonists, 18* are estimated, by Humboldt, at 13,500,000 Indians,............8,600,000 Negroes,............6,500,000 Mixed races,..........6,500,000 The whole amount is over 35 millions: some think there are 40 millions of inhabitants ; but there is yet space and fertile soil for more than 500 millions. A great part of the Indians are subdued, and are included in the population of Mexico, Guatimala and the states of South America. The numbers of those who speak the different languages made use of in A., are thus distributed: English language, ..... 11,647,000 Spanish,...........10,174,000 Portuguese,..........3,740,000 Indian languages,......7,593,000 French language, ......1,242,000 Dutch, Danish, Swedish and Russian,......216,000 (See Carey and Lea's Historical, Chronological and Geographical American Atlas, &c, Philadelphia, 1825, fol.)See also the different names mentioned in this article. AMERICA, Geology of. The great leading features in the structure of the new world are,1st. The continuous belt of high mountains and plateaus traversing its western border, from Behring's straits to Terra del Fuego, forming the most uninterrupted extent of primitive mountains known. Their northern portion, consisting of the Rocky mountains, appears to be chiefly granitic, while, in the Cordilleras of Mexico, and the Andes of South America, the primitive strata are, for the most part, covered with immense accumulations of transition porphyries, trachytes and lavas, forming numerous volcanoes, many of which are in constant activity. 2dly. The wide expanse of low and generally plain country, that succeeds immediately on the west to the abovementioned zone of mountains, and through which, in both hemispheres, flow some of the most magnificent streams in the world. This region consists of immense deposits of newer rocks, over which is strewed every where, as with a mantle, the alluvial formation, or a covering of sand and gravel, with which are intermingled rolled masses of rocks. 3dly. The chain of mountains of lower elevation and inferior continuity, which forms the eastern boundary to the low country, and whose principal masses and highest points are composed of granite. 4thly. The clusters of islands occupying the seas between North and South America, which are, almost without exception, of a volcanic origin.The geological characterof A. partakes of the simplicity observable in her great mountain ranges, which obey highly uniform laws of arrangement, and are, in a measure, free from those interruptions which occur in Europe, arising out of its numerous chains, whose irregular and often contradictory structure it is frequently difficult to reconcile or explain. The two continents agree in the prevailing primitive character of their northern extremities, and in the prevalence of volcanoes about their equatorial and southern regions; and an investigation of their geological relations affords no grounds for the common opinion, that the new world is of a more recent origin than the old. For a more minute account of the geology of America, see North America, Mexico and South America*